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North Korean Shootdown of a U.S. Reconnaissance Flight and Contingency Planning, January–November 1969


1. Special National Intelligence Estimate

Source: Department of State, INR/EAP Files: Lot 90 D 110. Secret. Submitted by Rufus Taylor, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. In an attached January 27 memorandum to Thomas L. Hughes, Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, John H. Holdridge stated that the SNIE was on the agenda of the January 30 USIB meeting, that its forerunner was dated May 1968, and that the “estimate reaffirms the conclusions of earlier SNIE’s that Pyongyang does not want a war.” The forerunner is SNIE 14.2–68; see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XXIX, part 1, Korea, Document 200.


2. National Security Study Memorandum 27

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 365, Subject Files, National Security Study Memoranda, Nos. 1–42. Secret. A copy was sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


3. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 540, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. I, to 9–69. Confidential. Drafted by Leonard and approved in S on March 21. The meeting was held at the Department of State. A copy was sent to Richard Sneider at the White House.


4. National Security Study Memorandum 34

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 365, Subject Files, National Security Study Memoranda, Nos. 1–42. Secret. Copies were sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of USIA.


5. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 77, Memoranda for the President, Beginning March 30, 1969. Secret; Sensitive. Presumably drafted by Sneider. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the meeting was held at the White House from 12:24 to 12:41 p.m. and Kissinger was also present. (Ibid., White House Central Files) Chung Il Kwon was in Washington to attend the funeral of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who died on March 28.


6. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 540, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. I, to 9–69. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Leonard and approved in S on April 15. A copy was sent to Sneider at the White House. The meeting was held at the Department of State.


7. Paper Prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials,NSC Files, Box 436, Korea:EC–121 Shootdown, North Korean Shootdown of US Reconnaissance Aircraft 4/19/69. Top Secret. Attached as Tab B to an April 15 memorandum from Pursley to Kissinger. Pursley’s memorandum listed four questions that Haig asked the Office of the Secretary of Defense to consider regarding the shootdown of the U.S. aircraft: “1) what options do we have for ‘retaliation’?; 2) what measures can and/or should be taken to prevent the North Koreans from picking up the survivors?; 3) how quickly could we execute an escorted reconnaisance flight like the one that is now missing?; 4) what North Korean assets are available worldwide against which we could take some retaliation?” (Ibid.)


8. Record of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 434, Korea: EC–121 Shootdown, North Korean Reconnaissance Shootdown 4/9/69–4/16/69, Vol. I Haig. No classification marking.


9. Record of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 434, Korea: EC–121 Shootdown, North Korean Reconnaissance Shootdown 4/9/69–4/16/69, Vol. I Haig. No classification marking.


10. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to Secretary of Defense Laird

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 434, Korea: EC–121 Shootdown, North Korean Reconnaissance Shootdown 4/9/69–4/16/69, Vol. I Haig. Top Secret; Sensitive. An attached note indicates the memorandum was sent at 11:29 p.m.


11. Briefing for Director of Central Intelligence Helms for a National Security Council Meeting

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry Files, Job 80–R01284A, K–3, Korea, January–December 1969. Top Secret; Codeword.


12. Memorandum From the President’s Military Adviser (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 434, Korea: EC–121 Shootdown, North Korean Reconnaissance Shootdown 4/9/69–4/16/69, Vol. I Haig. Top Secret; Sensitive.


13. Minutes of a National Security Council Meeting

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials,NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–109, NSC Minutes, Originals, 1969–1970. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the meeting lasted from 10:13 to 11:07 a.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files) The CIA prepared a paper, “Alternative Courses of Action In Response to Korean Attack on US Aircraft,” for discussion at this meeting. The paper “first states assumptions regarding possible survival of the crew and North Korean intentions, and then lists possible objectives of US actions. Alternative military courses of action with associated diplomatic actions are discussed as follows: show of force; single select military combat actions; other military actions.” (Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry Files, Job 80–R01284A, Box 9, K–3, Korea, January–December 1969)


14. Intelligence Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 540, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. I, to 9–69. Top Secret; Sensitive. Prepared in the Office of Current Intelligence of the Directorate of Intelligence, in coordination with the Office of National Estimates and the Office of Strategic Research.


15. Record of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 434, Korea: EC–121 Shootdown, North Korea Reconnaissance Shootdown 4/17/69, Vol. II Haig. No classification marking.


16. Memorandum From Richard L. Sneider of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 438, Korea: EC–121 Shootdown, General Materials—EC–121 Shootdown. Top Secret; Sensitive.


17. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Laird to President Nixon

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials,NSC Files, Box 438, Korea:EC–121 Shootdown, General Materials—EC–121 Shootdown. Secret; Sensitive.


18. Telegram From the Embassy in Korea to the Department of State

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials,NSC Files, Box 540, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. I, to 9–69. Secret; Immediate; Exdis.


19. Record of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 435, Korea: EC–121 Shootdown, North Korean Reconnaissance Shootdown 4/18/69–4/28/69, Vol. III Haig. No classification marking.


20. Memorandum by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials,NSC Files, Box 435, Korea:EC–121 Shootdown, North Korean Reconnaissance Shootdown 4/18/69–4/28/69, Vol. III Haig. Top Secret; Sensitive. A copy was sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


21. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 78, Memoranda for the President, Beginning April 27, 1969. Secret. The meeting was held at the White House. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the meeting was held from 11:29 a.m. to 12:26 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files) This memorandum is attached to a May 10 memorandum from Jeanne W. Davis to Lawrence Eagleburger indicating that Kissinger approved the memorandum of conversation with the stipulation that it could be distributed within the Department only on a Nodis basis. Deputy Prime Minister Park Choong Hoon also met with Rogers on April 28. (Memorandum of conversation, April 28; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 540, Far East, Korea, Vol. I, to 9–69)


22. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 435, Korea; EC–121 Shootdown, North Korean Reconnaissance Shootdown—Contingency Plan, Vol. I Haig. Top Secret; Sensitive. A notation on the memorandum indicates Nixon saw it.


24. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 540, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. I, to 9–69. Secret; Eyes Only. Sent for action.


25. Letter From President Nixon to Korean President Park

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 757, Presidential Correspondence File 1969–1974, Korea, President Park Corr., 1969. No classification marking. On May 21, the Acting Executive Secretary of the Department of State, John P. Walsh, sent a draft of this letter to Kissinger with the recommendation that he send it to the President. (Ibid.) Nixon signed the letter, and it was transmitted to President Park in telegram 96297 to Seoul, June 13. The original of President Nixon’s letter was forwarded by pouch.


26. Draft Study Prepared by the Ad Hoc Inter-Departmental Working Group for Korea

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–070, Washington Special Actions Group, WSAG Meeting, 7/11/69 Korea. Top Secret. Prepared in response to NSSM 34, Document 4. Prepared by a Working Group of the Korean Task Force. Although NSSM 34 called for review of this study by the NSC Review Group, it was scheduled for review by the Washington Special Actions Group; see Documents 28 and 29.

Apparently the sections of the study were prepared at different times because they have different dates. Section IA was drafted on May 20; section IB on June 7; sections IC and ID on June 11; section IIA on June 7; section IIB on June 11; and section III on June 2.


27. Draft Study Prepared by the Interagency Korean Task Force

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 72 A 6308, NSSM General File, 040 NSC, July 1969. Secret. This study, which is over 380 pages long, was prepared in response to NSSM 27, Document 2.


28. Minutes of a Washington Special Actions Group Meeting

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials,NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–114, Washington Special Actions Group, WSAG Minutes, Originals, 1969–1970, [6 of 6]. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting was held in the Situation Room of the White House. The minutes were forwarded through Haig to Kissinger as an attachment to a memorandum prepared by Behr on July 3.


29. Minutes of a Washington Special Actions Group Meeting

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials,NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–114, Washington Special Actions Group, WSAG Minutes, Originals, 1969–1970, [6 of 6]. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting was held in the Situation Room of the White House. These minutes were forwarded through Haig to Kissinger as an attachment to a July 11 memorandum from Behr. On July 10, Behr submitted three working papers to WSAG members: a summary of U.S. objectives extracted from the NSSM 34 study; a summary of military responses contained in the NSSM 34 study; and an annotated index of Department of Defense military contingency options for Korea. All are ibid.


30. National Intelligence Estimate

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, ODDI Registry of NIEs and SNIEs, Job 79–R01012A. Secret. The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense and NSA participated in the preparation of this estimate. The Director of CIA submitted this estimate with the concurrence of all members of the USIB with the exception of the representatives of the AEC and FBI who abstained on the grounds that it was outside their jurisdiction.